Vol 1: Issue 1 | Pages 32 | Price Rs.125/-
A magazine for Public Relations and Corporate Communications Professionals
He came and disrupted the
stagnant world of Political
Is he an abrasion or is
he here to stay?
INTERVIEWS: NUPUR SHARMA ALOK SANWAL
DILIP CHERIAN Articulation is a natural talent Government is no more selective
unless one spends years to master it. in communicating with media.
People centric structures
crumble, institutions survive.
NowOur Time Is Public Relations as a profession has come of age in India. Several
leading consultancies are celebrating their silver jubilees.
Corporate communications directors are getting a seat at the
leadership table. In an era like this, it is heartening that India does
not have its own media portal and a magazine that celebrates the
profession. Reputation Today is one such endeavour, which we
hope, will fill the gap through its sharp focus on offering more to
the intelligent communicator of 2016.
Why a print magazine? You may ask. Well, print is not dying in India anytime soon. And when it does, we will be
flexible to move to an online-only version. The communications business needs a media outlet that offers it its due.
A place to exchange ideas and insights with compelling content. Fortunately, couple of India trade media outlets
do offer some space to Public Relations and another couple of international portals keep a close eye on India. In all
this, an India-focussed point of view gets missed out. Hence, the need for a Made In India communications portal
dedicated to the craft we are all proud practitioners of.
The idea has been hovering around for a while but the ability to execute was taking time. After successfully
organising four editions of PRAXIS, this seemed like a natural progression. The basic philosophy is the same as
the theme of the first edition of the annual summit – Our Time Is Now! We want professionals to be able to carry
around a copy of this magazine with pride. We want younger professionals to show this magazine to their parents.
We want older professionals to show this to their children. We want corporate communications departments to
keep a copy of this magazine in their office libraries. And we want consultancies to display this magazine at their
reception for visitors to browse through. We are hopeful that this magazine will grow from strength to strength.
And hopefully, move from a quarterly to a monthly in the years ahead.
We hope you enjoy reading these pages and keep coming back for more. We have shared our philosophy so you
get to know us better. We can only grow by receiving your constant feedback. There is a lot in store. Let’s start from
here and take one swift step at a time.
Our Values : Impartial, Insightful, Inspirational
Philosophy Vision : To be the torchbearer for the future of the strategic
Mission : To offer a holistic business-to-business outlet for the
intelligent communicator to gain inspiration and
Print line | ..................................................... From the Editorial Team | ....................
• Publisher The business of communications has greatly evolved in the last decade.
The PRomise Foundation We have seen it in the corporate sphere and we see it in the political
• Editorial Team arena. The first issue of Reputation Today is testimony to that evolution.
Lovejeet Alexander (India) We could not think of another focus area for our cover story in the
Anubhuti Mathur (India) inaugural issue other than Political Communications. Every subsequent
Aakriti Kaushik (Europe) issue will focus on a relevant topic that is growing in importance. We
Chitrangada Maitra (North America) would like to hear from you on what topics to focus on, in the future.
Alejandra Brandolini (South America) Getting this issue off the ground was no easy task as the subjects
Geeta Singh (Africa) of the story are men and women who shy away from the media.
Sunayna Shetty (Australia) Prashant Kishor has been the topic of many a discussion ever since
• Design the current central government came to power. He became a hot topic
Blaq and an even hotter commodity after the results of the Bihar elections
in November 2015. There has not been such intense spotlight on one
Content | ...................................................... individual of the kind he has faced. We could not think of another
person to feature on the cover.
02 | News Roundup The magazine will have some regular features. There will be a cover
06 | Cover Story story that is backed by a debate, a guest column and a regular column. It
10 | PRAXIS Replay will have two pages devoted to news. Most importantly it will have three
12 | Guru Speak: Dilip Cherian interviews. One from a consultant, one from an in-house representative
16 | Opinion: Tushar Panchal and one from a journalist. There will be a case study linked to the cover
20 | Communicator Speak: Nupur Sharma story. This package is a labour of love. And we hope you enjoy reading
22 | Debate: Anup Sharma & Anubhuti Mathur it as much as we did putting it together.
24 | Media Speak: Alok Sanwal We are grateful to several people who have contributed towards making
26 | Case Study: Hemant Gaule this issue come alive. A special mention to Sunetra Rathnam and
27 | Expert Take: Shubesh Ravindran the team at Blaq for supporting this venture wholeheartedly. We are
28 | Taking PRide: Amith Prabhu grateful to our advertisers who believed in us. We will greatly depend
on you, our readers for feedback to make it better. We have spent several
sleepless nights proofreading the copy. However, should you find errors
bring it to our attention. Support us. Spread the word. Together, we will
Website - www.ReputationToday.in
Facebook - www.facebook.com/ThePraxisMag
Twitter - @RepTodayMag
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 01
PPR Worldwide Comes To India | ......................................................................................
“As a strong believer The core start-up team at PPR South Asia comprises Vandana
in the power of Sandhir as Country Lead, Bhuvnesh Chawla as Business Lead
insights-based and Mona Puri as Managing Partner, North. Before joining PPR,
communications, Vandana was the India Practice Chair, Corporate & Financial, at
we are excited to Genesis Burson-Marsteller.She comes with 20 years of experience
introduce PPR in in communications.
India.” Commenting on the launch, Richard Lazar, Managing Director and
CEO of PPR Asia-Pacific said, “India is an important milestone in
Australia based Professional Public Relations (PPR) Worldwide our international expansion given the potential for future growth in
launched its India operations this January. A part of WPP, the the marketing and communications industry here. We are confident
world’s largest communications services group, PPR has been in the that we will continue to build on our promise of being a creative and
public relations and strategic marketing communications business an integrated specialist that finds the right solutions for our clients.”
for more than 45 years. The consultancy started its India operations “As a strong believer in the power of insights-based communications,
with offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. we are excited to introduce PPR in India. We have the heart of a
start-up. We are entrepreneurial in our culture and passionate about
our clients’ business. We are putting together a mix of integrated
communication capabilities that can deliver the right stories, to the
right people, in the right places, and at the right time,” said Vandana
2016 Edelman Trust Barometer :
Gap Widening Between Informed And Mass Population | .....................................
India stands at the fourth position. US
presents the largest trust divide, followed
by the UK and France.
The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that globally the largest ever 3-point increase Informed Public
gap (12 points) now exists between informed and mass population. Informed Public
The gap is reportedly driven by income inequality and divergent in trust inequalit5y - which
expectations of the future. While trust levels among informed publics jumps to a 5- point increase
are the highest ever in 16 years, trust is below 50 per cent for the mass among the GDP
population in over 60 per cent of the countries surveyed, having barely
moved since the Great Recession. The trust disparity has widened and “We are now observing the inequality of trust around the world,”
is now at double digit levels in more than half of the countries surveyed. said Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman. “This brings
The U.S. presents the largest divide at nearly 20 points followed by the a number of potential consequences including the rise of populist
UK (17 points), France (16 points) and India (16 points). politicians, the blocking of innovation and the onset of protectionism
02 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 03
After Germany Msl Rides On Uber India As Well | ......................................................
“MSL Group works for Uber in MSL Group works for Uber in Germany as well. India assignment
Germany as well. India assignment is being seen as an extension of the relationship.
is being seen as an extension of the
relationship.” Another piece of news being seen in connection with Uber-MSL
association is the appointment of Srinivas Krishnan, former editor
MSL Group succeeded in winning Uber’s India PR account. of ‘Business Standard Motoring’, as senior advisor to 20:20 MSL’s
Auto practice. Srinivas comes from Porsche, where he was Head
With its recent expansions, the mobile ride-sharing company now of Press for the India market. Krishnan will work closely with the
offers services in 26 cities. MSL Group will take care of Uber’s auto practice across the offices of 20:20 MSL.
strategic communications and brand building efforts. In view of
several incidents related to drivers of the company, MSL is expected
to manage reputation and crisis issues as well.
Challenges for MSL with regards to Uber account are abundant.
The company is facing regulatory issues, stiff resistance from
traditional cab services and even government-run public transport
services. Also, there is fierce competition from other players in the
sector. Ola, Meru and even CarzOnRent are fighting aggressively to
take on the global giant.
Meenu Handa Appointed Barkha Dutt And Shekhar Gupta
Google India Communications Head Launch The Print
Meenu Handa Barkha Dutt Shekhar Gupta
Google India’s communications team will now be led by Well known senior journalists have joined hands to launch a digital
Meenu Handa. Meenu until recently was heading Amazon India’s media start-up - The Print. First offering by The Print was ‘Off The Cuff ’
corporate communications since 2013. Prior to that, she was with - a chat hosted by Shekhar Gupta himself. The first guest of the venture
Microsoft. was SoftBank President and COO, Nikesh Arora.
Earlier, Google India’s communications team was led by Paroma Roy
Chowdhury who has now moved to SoftBank. Senior journalist, Ruhi Tewari, who has previously worked with The
Meenu comes with an experience of more than two decades in the field Indian Express and the financial portal Livemint, has joined as associate
of PR and communications. Her 10 years of corporate experience with editor of The Print.
two tech giants is preceded by a 15-year stint at IPAN Hill & Knowlton
where she is credited of devising a proprietary PR measurement system Senior journalist Y P Rajesh has been appointed as the executive editor
and setting up of an independent news dissemination profit centre for of The Print. Announcement of the venture was first made on Twitter.
04 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
By - Lovejeet Alexander
All it took was one person to shift focus from Politicians to Political Communication Strategists. Some say he
structured it and gave a definition to the sector while others are of the opinion that he has just redefined it. For
some - he is an inspiration, for others - a challenge. Accept it gladly and offer a seat to him. Or don’t. But he
is here with a double bang and has spared none from feeling his presence. A rock has hit the calm waters and
waves are pushing the shores. Let’s explore the height and strength of the waves and analyse what all has been
washed off, and what’s more to go!
In an attempt to collect quotes, interviews and stories on the star swims against the tide. And he can afford to do so as business lines up
political communication strategists of India, I am on the verge of at his door, and so does the network.
claiming for a doctorate towards my one of its kind research. For now,
the issue in your hand is no less than a PhD for me. Do I hear you Trick of the Trade
asking for the findings? Well, they are as complex as the Indian political
scenario itself. The key to success in political communication, as they say, is – keep
yours on the ground. It’s difficult to fathom the connection between a
Going through several stories and personal interactions, the first helicopter strategist - who may be least aware of the local dynamics leave
thing I noticed is that, in India, a Political Communicator is no more aside understanding the local language - and a grass root campaign. We
abbreviated as PC but as PK. The new age Chanakya, as he is called, has know that the party worker is the best ear. But till the voices recorded
literally revolutionised the political communications scenario in India. by them are not collected well and churned proficiently by a team of
specialised experts and conclusions are humbly accepted, nothing
Prashant Kishor’s appearance from nowhere and his journey so far has is gained. Campaigns drawn well, riding on the strengths, result in
been discussed a lot. What I wanted to delve into are the intricacies of success. And repeat even.
his job and work style, and track the trajectory. While nobody denies his
grand entry and later ascension, the veteran communicators certainly I doubt if politicians learnt any lesson from the 2014 General Elections.
question the sustenance. And if they did, little wonder if they still remember them. But one
lesson will surely remain fresh and sustain. Hire a technically sound
Elusive is the Word professional to lead a war room full of communication professionals
and people from IITs and IIMs. Don’t question their ability and dare not
Here is a man who has been in business for almost a decade now. His try to understand what they are doing and why they are charging what
success rate, as it is till date, has been 100 percent. Demand for him has they do. Well, at least Prashant Kishor has done that one good thing
seen no dip ever since he took off. His rise is not willing to accept any for all those claiming to be political communicators. Made their life
height as a pinnacle. Well if all that isn’t sufficient, what could be? easy, got them a good raise and opened avenues for many disenchanted
political journalists and communicators. Professionals in the field owe
On top of it all, the man who has grown from being ‘talk of the state’ to him big time.
‘talk of the nation’ and whose demand is growing past the boundaries
of the nation has always been elusive of media. That’s his style and am More of his know-how on winning elections and what influences
sure he has a logic for that. As far as I could understand, all those in Indian voters is soon to be published in the form of his debut book –
the same business try to be in the limelight, network more and build The Election Game.
personal relationships. Well, that’s how you get more business and also
gain the efficiency of doing it better. But this man breaks all norms and
06 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
Ambitions Unknown COovVerESRtoSrTyORY
As elusive is Prashant from media, so are his ambitions to the But one thing is for sure - At this point in time of Indian politics, he has
world. At this moment, it’s difficult to understand what this proven himself not once but twice. He isn’t eyeing easy tasks that are waiting
man is upto. There are mixed views about his objective. His for him. Instead, he seems to be competing with none other than himself.
close associates think of him as someone who is not working for His every next assignment is proving to be much more challenging than the
money at all and has no political ambitions as well. Colleagues earlier one. And he is emerging triumphant election after election.
consider him to be working with the sole aim of bringing good
and accountable leaders to public offices. Man of the moment, indeed! If he could do to governance what he has done
to political campaigning and communication, this nation would probably be
Narendra Nath, a senior journalist who spent time with Prashant indebted to him as much as it is to Gandhi. Only time will tell.
during Bihar elections is of the view that he is on track to set
an entity in this nation that would offer one-stop solution for
political campaigning and communication. That’s on the lines of
specialised consultancies as they exist in western countries.
If commercials and power are not things that are fuelling Prashant,
then his zeal could only be attributed to retribution. It’s a known
fact that the relationship between Modi and Prashant went sour
post 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Rumour has it that Amit Shah
and Sangh parivar are to blame for it. Post that, Prashant has
worked for and is expected to take assignments of other parties.
Incidentally, all his campaigns will go on to hurt BJP.
The Torch Bearer
For all those communicators and allied professionals who are in
the business of political campaigning, Prashant has not just shown
the way but has also opened the golden gates of opportunity. By
far, there is just one Prashant Kishor in India and only one party
would have him for each election. Others will certainly have to
learn to survive and find the next best available. Soon enough
there will be many Prashant Kishors available to choose from.
Some may even grow to be better. But as of now, he’s the first and
the only man standing on the platform built by himself.
Whether Prashant Kishor will end up to be just a chapter in the
Political Communications history of India or will he be writing a
new history altogether is for time to tell.
“He is on track to set an entity in this nation
that would offer one-stop solution for
political campaigning and communication.”
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 07
With good people,
come around the
bad as well
Aam Aadmi Party is stated to be the result of the Anna movement. The movement became as big as we know
of it because of social media, and later the electronic media. Ankit Lal is the man behind the impactful digital
strategy for the movement and later for the party. Engineer by profession, Ankit took leave from his job to join
the Anna movement. And now, he is the founding member of AAP, heading its IT and overseas communications
wing. A tete-e-tete:
Q. What inspired you to join politics and what is the force done. Until you are in sync with the ideology of a certain organisation,
that keeps you motivated? you can’t catch the pulse of your leader. That’s lacking here.
Ans: People’s confidence and their expectations made us take the battle Q. There could be an external support system helping do a
forward. More than half my family is settled abroad. I could also have campaign and then there can be an in-house expert and his
shifted and lived a comfortable life. But when I started taking this team that does the job for the party. What’s the difference
movement forward and calls from all corners of the world started and what are the repercussions of the same?
pouring in appreciating my work, I got motivated to keep going.
Ans: As someone hired externally, you get paid to do a job within a
Q. What’s your observation on the political scenario in India? given timeline. This largely limits your scope of work. When someone
from within the organisation does the same thing, it’s more in sync and
Ans: In India, the political communications scenario is quite rudimentary real. External professionals are hired in view of the work they have done
as of now. We are still following what the West did in late 60s. Just that but sometimes the association goes awry. This has a long term bearing
we are doing it with the use of photoshop and other new-age tools. A on the party image. For example, Modiji hired Prashant Kishor. He did
recent example is that of the posters of Bahubali inspired Jayalalitha a certain kind of campaign. But now it is hurting because the party is
during Chennai floods. Such ideas were picked in other countries in the unable to live by the high standards and expectations set by him before
60s, when Political Communications was not as well-defined. the masses.
Q.08 Don’t you think that the entry of people like you and Q. Next big elections for AAP is in Punjab. Reports are that
Prashant Kishor has brought along an evolution in Indian Prashant Kishor is to steer Congress’ campaign there. Are
politics? you ready for it?
Ans: Prashant is doing a nice job. But the problem is that he works as Ans: The question is if he is ready for it? Any intelligent person who
a political mercenary. Anybody can hire him, pay him, and get his job would go to Punjab will advise Prashant not to get into it. What we
do is just an add on to what happens on ground. There can be only a
08 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 5 or 10% plus or minus perception change that we as communication
professionals can effect. You can’t totally turn around the ground reality.
Q. Do you see the role of communicators going beyond Q. Do you see more engineers like you and other professionals
campaigning? joining the political bandwagon in future?
Ans: It has to move beyond campaigning and become part of the overall Ans: Political advocacy will undoubtedly become much more prominent
discourse eventually. A communicator playing a role in governance is in India. But people like us will have to decide how to sustain without
an evolution and a major recognition for his work. getting corrupted in the political scenario. In our party, we are all
volunteers. Thankfully, my wife earns well as a media professional; that
Q. What is that one thing which gives you an edge and that helps. Parties and politicians are certainly looking out for professional
level of confidence? communicators. However, like with any business - with good people,
the bad also come around. Those under talented are also trying to sell
Ans: What gives us an edge is the last one-year data that we have themselves.
collected in the state. We are far ahead of them.
Q. What is the strongest point of Prashant Kishor? “Prashant is doing a nice job. But the problem
is that he works as a political mercenary.”
Ans: Ground research. I very well know his brilliant team members
who do that.
IN THE LEAGUE Rann Neeti:
FourthLion Technologies: Rohit Deshpande, Antara Desai
The duo intends to professionalise politics, help
Naman Pugalia, Viral Shah, Shankar those who wish to help others, and possibly
Maruwada blend both those objectives in the future.
The trio helped Nandan Nilekani in his They believe that ‘winning hearts’ is the key to
election campaign and now working for ‘winning elections.’
several candidates. Naman has also worked
as a public policy and government affairs
analyst at Google.
Political Edge: Center for Empowerment Studies:
Gaurav Rathore, Saurabh Vyas Sanjeev Singh
Buzzing name amongst young politicians. A Social Researcher cum Political Analyst,
Helped design campaigns for several Sanjeev has worked in leading research firms
candidates in the recent Delhi, Haryana, in India and Sri Lanka. He is known for his
Maharashtra, Jharkhand and even Jammu & expertise in the area of constituency mapping.
Kashmir assembly elections.
Sushil Pandit Worked for leaders like Milind Deora, Nilesh
A media campaign designer associated with Rane and Shilpa Sarpotdar and several others
BJP since 1998 when LK Advani first picked from different parties. Positions himself as the
him. The only time when he wasn’t part of best option for political campaigning in and
the campaign planning was in 2004 - India around Maharashtra.
Shining. And the NDA lost.
Gaurav Singh A post graduate from the Institute of
Company started by a group of IITians Development Studies (IDS), University of
in 2012. Claim to provide best Election Sussex (UK) in Governance and Development,
Management and Political Strategies Service Shantanu’s experience of working with Centre
with the help of party structure and resources for Civil Society and UNICEF adds much to his
to create win and win situation. political consultancy.
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 09
Creating Employee Friendly Work Environment And Talent Management | ....
The largest gathering of communications professionals for a conference the topic – What are the firms doing to create an employee friendly
in India was witnessed at PRAXIS 2015. The fourth edition of the work environment and manage talent? The session was moderated by
only summit of its kind was held on 25th and 26th September in the Chandramouli Nilakantan from Blue Lotus and the panel included
city of Mysore and witnessed over 450 professionals from over 150 top Asian leaders like Lynne Anne Davis, President – Asia Pacific,
organisations in attendance. 35 speakers including three keynote Fleishman Hillard, Jean-Michel Dumont, Chairman, Ruder Finn Asia,
speakers representing different continents were the highlights of the Paul Mottram, MD, Integrated Strategy – Asia Pacific, Text 100 and
event this year. Theme for this year’s edition was ‘The Power to Create.’ Angie Schneider, President - Asia Pacific, Porter Novelli.
One of the most interesting panel discussions at the event was on
10 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 11
Institutions Sustain; Personality Centred Structures Are Blips | .........................
Dilip Cherian - the prolific political analyst and co-
founder of Perfect Relations - is widely referred to
as India’s ‘Image Guru’. In a candid interview with
Lovejeet Alexander, Cherian speaks his mind on the
emergence of new age political communicators and
Q. From the days when you started off to this day, political the other for some time till we figure out a bigger reform in our form
communications has come a long way. How do you see this of electoral choices. The difference is that when the regional parties are
journey? Is it just the tools and channels that have changed in play, it’s personality driven all the way. When national parties are in
or there is much more than what meets the eye? play, they want a fig leaf of trying to create the sense that issues are more
important than the people.
Ans: I would say that it’s good to look at what has changed but it’s equally
important to see what has not changed. It is the extreme expectations Q. Of late, we have witnessed uprising of new and specialised
of the electorate. What has changed is how political parties are seeking consultancies that claim to make or break governments.
to address that. Most of the time we focus on the need of the client. In How do you see the trend? Why couldn’t established firms
the last few years, we flipped it around and tried to tell parties to talk grow to be that strong?
about what hasn’t changed and how to address those issues. Nowadays,
parties are making strategies that are more sharply focussed on need Ans: Part of the reason is that established companies in the PR business
fulfilment. recognise that this business is once in five years or at the best once in
three years. And you have too much of committed staff that has to have
Q. Do you mean that communications strategy has moved a regular day job. The second reason in my opinion is that the kind of
towards more realistic promises? agencies that are now finding traction in this business are those that
are doing social sector PR for the government departments. And that’s
Ans: I think that the electoral victory is a triumph of selling hope over what the regular PR companies have ignored; that’s a mistake they have
perceived reality that remains constant. made.
Q. What are the major shifts in communications strategy Q. A number of such professionals or consultancies aren’t
planning then and now? We’ve seen the focus of growing. The options for political parties and personalities
communications shuttling between personality centred to are still very limited. Will the situation change anytime
vision driven. What works the best and when? soon?
Ans: The bigger shift is from issue based elections to leader based Ans: For the last 15 years of my career in public relations, I have been
presidential type elections. We have seen that shift happens. Is that shift almost a sole voice saying that specialist companies are the future.
stable? My sense is - no, it’s not. It’s going to hover between one and And which is the reason why Perfect Relations has this bouquet of
five different brands (standalone companies) under which we work.
12 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
The reason is that specialist companies are where you can invest in Q. Many of the political communications professionals have
specialist skills which result in specialist media. And I think that pure shown interest in joining politics and many are already
political consultancies are those that focus on by-elections, state-wide part of parties now. How do you see the trend and what’s
municipal polls, state elections and national elections. If they can your take on it?
offer that entire thing under one umbrella, there is room for several
consultancies in that space. Ans: People must make up their mind on what they are. A segway
from one to the other can’t happen overnight. Being a successful
Q. It is said that if the communications strategy fails the communicator is not a sufficient condition to being a successful
consultancy is to blame. But if it works well, the client politician. It is just one of the ingredients.
gives no credit. Do you think that the recent case studies
will help them change their mindset? Q. How was political communications as a career option back
then when you started with and how’s the scenario now?
Ans: Politicians are as guilty as entrepreneurs in the launch phase to
blame somebody and keep the credit for themselves. I wouldn’t put Ans: Political communications as a career is at best a tricky thing
politicians as a separate category of clients. For us as a consultancy, we because there are few agencies who take people on a long term basis.
follow the philosophy that win or lose we remain below the radar - that’s There are few parties that have sustained communications budget post
how we like to be. The recent case studies are not generic. Parties will elections. And there are a few candidates with the appetite to actually
continue to make the same mistake. use good advice as opposed to somebody implementing what they want
done. The situation is improving enormously. In the next two elections
Q. How is political communications different from advocacy we will see revolution of a political communications skill cadre.
Ans: Political communications is much more upfront. Both advocacy Q. Is it difficult nowadays to get manpower that understands
as well as lobbying are things that take time, and don’t have a finite political communications or has interest in the genre?
time horizon to be successful. They always have to be a mixture of
above the radar and below the radar. In advocacy, you sell more by your Ans: There is skill shortfall in all of PR. And the biggest skills that there
conviction and knowledge than in political PR. is a shortfall of is the comprehensive ability to understand data and to
write it out in multiple formats. That skill is true whether you are in
Q. An incident that took place five years ago led to a large political consultancy, brand consultancy or technology consultancy.
consultancy shutting down. Is this seen as a turning That is the biggest skill gap that exists and it exists because it cannot be
point for the community and people involved in political taught post college.
communications in India. What’s your observation and
what has been its effect overall? Q. What is the skill set required for someone to be a good
political communications strategist? Any tips for those
Ans: Whether it’s the example of the recent victory or it’s the demise aspiring to make a career in this field?
of a consultancy, I think these are blips - structures which are not built
as institutions but are built around individuals. If you don’t have an Ans: The key is one’s ability to comprehend large quantities of material
institutional structure none of these structures are immune to huge and convert them into communicable material at very short time
bouts of self aggrandisement and annihilation. Either can happen. The frames. If you want to be the one, give up the dream of having weekends
lesson is that it’s the skill of building an institution rather than building and of not living your work 24 x 7. During the period of a campaign,
up an individual personality as the institution’s face. you don’t have a life.
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 13
ONLINE OFFLINE The Pr Measurement
Food As A Form Of Communication Conundrum – Roi Or Roo!
Nandini Goswami, Sujit Patil,
Director, Corporate Communications ABC - Vice President and Head - Corporate
Kellogg India Communications, Godrej Industries Limited
When we say ‘communication’ to a communication professional, and Associate Companies
the things that come to our mind are strategy, key messages, In most of the recent communication conferences that I attended,
thought leadership, brand PR, presentations et al. Do we step one common banter that I have heard taking precedence over
back and think about the various other ways we can communicate all others, has been around the topic of PR measurement.
besides the usual tools and vehicles? In the regular humdrum of Sometimes talked about loosely, sometime seriously, the
meeting timelines, subtle things that can play a key role in story questions I keep hearing are; how do we show value? How do
telling seem to skip our thoughts. we get a bang for the buck? How do we convince management
There are various other forms available to communicate – to invest more on PR… so on and so forth? However, the fact
communication through food, culture, sports and music. remains, even after so much expert commentary by so called PR
To read the complete article, please visit: measurement gurus, it still remains an enigma for most of the
http://reputationtoday.in/views/food-as-a-form-of- PR practitioners.
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Musings Of An Unknown Political Communicator | ......................................................
As a communications professional who has had several opportunities Tushar Panchal
to dabble into serious political and government communications since
2003, I have seen the evolution of this field from an individual to an happy that I was right but little sad because he was wrong! After all,
organisational level, just like the world has witnessed the emergence what are friends for!
of multimodal supermarkets giving a tough competition to friendly
neighbourhood kirana shops. A lot has been said and written about recent elections campaigns. All
I am watching now is the preparation many major political parties are
Earlier, it was limited to having a coterie of people around a political doing for the upcoming elections, and observing the techniques and
leader advising him or her on his public and media appearance, armed technology being deployed for US Presidential elections. I would be
with whatever little information or access to knowledge they had basis happy to share what worked and what didn’t once these are over. Till
their experience and expertise. At the party level as well, it was left to then, enjoy life. Be a good citizen and vote for a better tomorrow.
some savvy media managers to manage communications. It was not a
very complex world to live and thrive in. And, of course, it was also not Tushar Panchal comes with extensive experience in public
as sexy or glamourous as it sounds today. Especially, after one such new affairs, government affairs and marketing communications and
age communicator specialising in political communications became currently leads strategic communications and public affairs
part of a certain state’s cabinet, many of my friends, who worked with practice at Adfactors.
me, chided me for not being consistent and focussed in this field.
But mind you my dear friends, it’s not at all sexy! It is a tough job and
not a single person’s job. You have to be the one who must wear a watch,
but not to look at the time, but to keep a track on finish-lines and
appointments. It’s a mentally and physically challenging job for you and
demands utmost commitment from you and your family and friends.
It’s not about sitting in war rooms created in backyards of luxurious
bungalows of Lutyens’ Delhi or lush state capitals. It is about hitting the
dirt track at the first instance. It is about sipping cutting tea in village
dhabas and sharing meals with people in their huts. The real India
lives in villages. A good political communicator must be aware of his
or her surroundings and should have the ability to discover the music
from all surrounding noise. S/he must have a keen eye for making
sense of big data for big results along with enough gut feeling to stir
the human emotions. Now, if you don’t have both - it’s perfectly alright
- nobody said that you have to be alone in this - you can always have
trusted partners to do that for you. The qualities you need is one of a
collaborator, a leader, a team player, someone who is a keen student of
psychology and human behaviour, and has lots of patience.
There are many famous political communicators and then there are
many underdogs, who like to remain behind the curtains and continue
to make their clients look great. It is my strong belief that the day you
stop shaping the news and become the news is the day when you need
to relook at what you are doing and evaluate your choices. The more
connected you are at the grassroots, higher are the chances of your
success. Communicators out there are working day and night to help
politicians to remain in touch with the public. Technology is changing
the way the entire process used to work. However, it hasn’t changed the
need to connect with real people with real issues. And that’s where the
success lies. Delhi and Bihar elections are such examples where many
pundits failed to gauge the mood of the public by solely relying on hi-
tech gizmos and larger than life communication campaigns. I predicted
a win for Nitish Kumar in August 2014 over a dinner with a friend. He
didn’t believe me then but called soon after the results were out. He was
16 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
NOTES FROM THE LEADERS
Politicians As Thought Leaders, Constituents As Consumers | ............................
“In the ’80s, when consumers-using the principles of marketing and engaging marketing
the primary form of experts.
print and state-controlled In the ’80s, when the primary form of communication was print and
television and radio, state-controlled television and radio, political communications was
political communication less complicated and less intensive. India of the ’90s marked the entry
was less complicated and of private news and even though it meant more outlets for political
less intensive.” communications, it also meant more checks and barriers for political
messaging. In the 21st century India, where besides television, radio
Prema Sagar and print, there is digital, social and mobile, the turf of political
communications has expanded and become more layered. Social
Prema Sagar is the Founder President of Public Relations networking sites such as facebook and twitter have allowed consumers/
Consultants Association of India (PRCAI). She is Vice voters to voice their views and engage directly with the political class.
Chairman, Burson-Marsteller, Asia Pacific & Principal The BM Twiplomacy and World Leaders on facebook studies show how
Founder, Genesis Burson-Marsteller. effective global leaders are on social platforms.
Political communications has evolved significantly over the last couple Political communications today is integrated and segmented at the
of years. There is a higher degree of research and strategic thinking same time. While it is one message you drive across platforms and
behind political campaigns of today than there was just a few years ago. mediums, the varied nature of your audiences (even if we were to go
Parties and individuals are cognizant of the impact the right messaging by the simplistic classification of urban versus rural) necessitates that
and integration can have on their political goals and objectives. More you customise your message and chose the right platform. For instance,
and more, they are looking at the constituents the way marketers look at Prime Minister Modi has revived All India Radio and is using it
effectively and his social media communication is different from that
Consultancies Need To Invest In The Vertical, Hire Specialists | ..........................
The General election of 2014 can elections will demand more accountability. They have also realised
well be called a watershed year in that with the growing number of young voters, image will make a huge
Indian politics. Narendra Modi set difference when it comes to winning an election.
a new trend when he boosted his Hence, whether it is Kishor or some other communication consultant,
image, and that of Gujarat, through almost all leading political parties are looking for campaign strategists.
an international communications Public Relations consultancies are also not immune to this new wave;
consultant. Everyone suddenly but they have to realise that the arena of political strategy is different
realised there is immense potential from the world of business. Consultancies in Delhi and Mumbai will
in a PR-styled political campaign. have to pull up their socks and look beyond general elections. Today,
Prashant Kishor, the man who State and civic polls are important indicators of what lies in store on a
Nitin Mantri engineered the victory of Modi at national stage. The action takes place at the grassroots.
Consultancies need to invest in a separate vertical of political PR and
the Centre and Lalu-Nitish in Bihar, hire specialists, who are aware of the needs of each State and its voters.
became the poster boy of communication wizardry. Soon, everyone West Bengal is going to polls soon, and its chief minister Mamata
wanted a piece of him. Kishor was apparently approached by at least Banerjee’s requirements will not be the same as Lalu-Nitish. The one
four States who are gearing for assembly elections, but the former size-fits-all formula does not work in political communications. We
United National health official is playing it cool. need experts, who know the ground realities of a State, who have done
their research and understand the pulse of voters. Basically, it has to
Nitin Mantri is the President of Public Relations be a mix of formal training and hands-on experience. Only then can
Consultants Association of India (PRCAI). He is also the consultancies customise strategies to suit local needs.
CEO and Business Partner, Avian Media. All said and done, political communications is here to stay, and the
opportunities will grow, and, so will the challenges. But, I am confident
With voters becoming more politically aware of their candidates, and that PR consultancies will play an important role in this scenario.
the policy initiatives being taken at all levels, also given the prolific
growth of social media, political parties have realised that future
18 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
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REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 19
Articulation Is A Natural Talent Unless One Spends Years To Master It | .......
Nupur Sharma – the BJP spokesperson - is well known for her ability
to take head-on debates with leaders from opposition who many
a times come with an experience more than her age. But that’s no
deterrent. Lovejeet Alexander, in a rendezvous with Nupur, tries to
find the nuances of her job and tips for aspirants.
Q. How easy or difficult is your job as a representative of the Q. Have you ever faced a situation where your personal views
party in opposition in the State but in power in Lok Sabha? on a particular issue clash with that of the party line? How
Do you have a say in deciding the line of communication do you handle such a situation?
that the party picks or is it just a decision conveyed that
you are expected to follow and find your own words to Ans: Well, I am in the party because my views match with the party-
defend? line – it is quite simple as that! But I do choose the debates that I go
for. For example, the MSM today wants to involve the government or
Ans: When you are in a UT like Delhi, the pressure is more because you political party where neither are required to have a stand. So, personally
are expected to communicate and explain to the electorate the legalities speaking, I instinctively know where the party will take a stand and
and the power-dynamic difference constitutionally between a full- where not and what the stand will be, if there is one. That helps.
fledged state and a UT. It also helps when the local government lacks in
services wherein the central can be shown as the more caring and well- Q. There must have been incidents when you would have got
meaning government through its policies i.e., the party in opposition irritated with news anchors on live television shows. How
in state is the party that cares more. As for the line, we all pitch in with do you deal with them?
our respective suggestions. But, quite honestly, in Delhi it’s as simple as
following and defending the law of the land – which, as is apparent, the Ans: Since anchors and moderators do call the shots, it’s kind of
Delhi Government is adamant on disobeying in all respects. difficult if their bias is apparent through the show but I am hardly one
to back-down. So I make it a point to be heard in case my voice is being
Q. You’ve been a spokesperson of BJP for quite some time scuttled or when I am clearly given lesser time than the anchor’s chosen
now. How has the experience been and do you think spokespersons.
anything including party’s communications strategy has
changed after coming to power at the centre?
Ans: I am actually the Media co-convenor both for Delhi State BJP and Q. Does being a woman get you to enjoy some benefits and
BJYM, but double as a media panelist as and when the party requires. have an edge over others or it’s the other way round?
Being a lawyer helps in arguing and being articulate on television. But
honestly, sometimes the unnecessary fighting during debates - which Ans: Neither. Being an educated woman helps as it also means I can
you have got to do if you want your point to be heard, can be quite work in off-the-field, intellectual activities of the party. But work
draining. Well, quite a few of our star spokespersons are either elected is work in a set-up as democratic as our party which promotes both
or are in the cabinet today, and are thus busy with constituencies and genders equally and fairly. Thankfully, BJP’s culture is super disciplined
work. The immediate challenge was to fill the void, but luckily there is and very respectful towards its women workers and the party ensures
no dearth of talent in the party. Also, unlike earlier, now we also have that we don’t have to face unnecessary troubles only on account of being
to keep the government welfare schemes in mind while participating in women.
discussions – the responsibility of spokespersons is definitely more than
pre-2014 Lok Sabha elections.
20 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
Q. Would you like to share some tips or a piece of advice with its convenor (the Chief Minister) haven’t been able to come to terms
the women who aspire to be a political communications with the 2014 Lok Sabha loss – the language used against the PM of
professional or join mainstream politics? What is your the country is enough proof of one’s intentions and feelings of hatred.
opinion about it and that one piece of advice that you On the contrary, all this tamasha is reflecting rather poorly on the
would like to share with your counterparts in opposition? Delhi government, since all the principles and tall claims used by them
to come to power in Delhi are exactly what they seem to be defying
Ans: My advice is – in politics, work and a serious attitude towards it is and fighting against today. Be it their support for corruption, corrupt
the only mantra which works. Be loyal to your party, and be flexible and officers and netas within AAP, VVIP racism or non-delivery of ALL the
adjusting to mix with all sorts of people. Be ready to travel far and wide, tall promises, doles and subsidies as mentioned in their 2015 manifesto.
rural and urban, to truly understand India. Believe in the ideology you
are working for and keep at it. Q. Do you see there is a need of structured talent hunt and
grooming for the next line of spokespersons? Is there any
Most importantly, you must naturally have a sense of service to help plan of doing so within the party cadre?
people to be good at your job and nothing shall come in the way. Fame
and success will follow, as I truly believe that if it’s the other way round, Ans: Articulation, I feel, is a natural talent unless one spends years to
it is probably going to be short-lived. master it. I am sure the party leadership is already at it and as I mentioned
earlier, there are workers like me who are advised to participate as and
Q. It’s a common view that central government needs to when it deems fit or necessary to communicate the party’s line. And
involve more brains to produce better and early results. then assessments happen amongst the large talent pool. Let me simply
You are one of the names that’s surely to be considered tell you that nothing misses the leadership’s eyes – more than we think
for governance when time comes. If given an option what we know they are all clued in.
would you choose communication or governance? Why?
Ans: Actually, some of the best brains are working for the government
already so I seriously don’t know who these people making these
opinions about the central government are. As for your second
question, everything has a time and place. And the more time one
spends doing something the more likely is she/he to attain perfection
through experience. My job is to serve the country and party to the
best of my abilities and since my seniors in the party have way more
experience and understanding of the field, I leave all these decisions to
them. It is communications for now and perhaps when they feel that I
am ready for it and the time is right, the job will switch to governance.
Q. At times it’s apparent that the party’s communications
strategy is being guided by third-party influencers and
supporting organisations. Bihar elections is one recent
example. What best can you do in such a scenario?
Ans: Everybody gets involved in electioneering – be it behind the scene
war-rooms or party leaders and workers – with an intention to win an
election. But it’s politics and in electoral battles you win some and you
lose some. All parties have to introspect from the experience, which
(mind you) happens even if you have won an election. However, as an
individual part of a large collective, if I personally sense something
amiss, I simply communicate it to my seniors and discuss possible
course-correction or trouble-shooting techniques. Or, if I have the
power and wherewithal to handle it at my level I do it myself.
Q. Delhi and Central governments have a love hate
relationship. How do you see this going forward and do
you think it’s tarnishing BJP’s image and are spokespersons
having a hard time to defend?
Ans: Actually it’s an all-hate relationship being meted out from the state Nupur Sharma
to the centre. I honestly believe that the AAP Delhi government and
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 21
Who is more important to win an election? Is it the Political Communications Strategist or the Political Leader who hires the services of
the best professionals available, rests full faith in them, and acts well on the script provided? We threw the question on two young Political
Communications Strategists and got some very interesting perspectives. Read on.
Leaders are born but not necessarily all leaders are born with good In today’s world no election can be won sans a Political
communication skills. Communication Strategist
From Gandhi to Churchill; Martin Luther King to Atal Bihari Today, public opinions about individuals, incidents, places and issues are
Vajpayee, history is full of individuals who, through their words and shaped by various forms of communication that bombard us from every
deeds, have shifted public opinion and behaviour. In the recent past, direction and myriad sources. From the traditional print and electronic
Indira Gandhi, Barrack Obama and Narendra Modi have all been media to the modern social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook,
hailed as great political communicators. All leaders know that great Tumblr and YouTube, communication has a profound effect on what
communicators can influence change but they also know that only great and how we think. What we see, hear and read, could be the difference
communications don’t win elections. They know that most voters do between Kanhaiya Kumar getting public support for his right to free
not experience political leaders first hand but rely on ‘heard voices’ to speech and him being declared a country enemy for sedition. Similarly,
frame an image of their leaders. With this belief, strong leaders build a the right communication, in the right medium at the right time could
strong team, by placing right people at right places, to help them with be the difference in the electoral mandate for a political leader.
communications strategy and implementation, and create a direct link
between them and voters. What issues does a candidate or political leader associate himself with to
strike a chord with the electorate? How and what does he communicate?
With the emergence of news hungry 24X7 channels fuelled by social Which words does he use and what emotions does he portray? What
media, political campaigns now need strategy to be evolved on a real mediums are used for this communication? political communication
time basis turning any situation into a huge positive opportunity that strategists help find answers to many such questions. They ensure the
completely changes the game over a weekend or even overnight. correct message reach the correct media and are sent out at the correct
time though the correct medium.
Over the past few years, there is a big change in public interest as the
voters are now concerned about and are asking questions regarding In today’s media frenzy environment, communications and in turn
policy initiatives at all levels, besides the candidate’s credibility and the communications strategists are indispensable to winning an election.
party ideology. Politicians could win elections in the absence of social media and
multimedia channels which was how it was back in the day. We have
Today, the WIN is a collaboration of efforts from all quarters but the seen in Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 and 2012. We have seen
political leader, his or her work and legacy is the key. The leader is the in Narendra Modi’s campaign in 2012 and both Assembly elections
face. The face that inspires confidence in the voters and the strategist campaigns in Delhi and Bihar in 2015 that elections are won with a
plays a backroom role in marketing the face. grand behind the scenes play by political communications strategists.
They are here to stay and help a face win.
Success depends on the marketability of this face based on work done in
the past or the potential for the future.
Anup Sharma, an independent Anubhuti Mathur has over 10 years
PR & Communications of industry experience, working for
consultant, has worked with three companies like IBM and Aptara.
Chief Ministers and two Union She holds an Economics degree
Ministers in the last National from Fergusson College and a
elections and three assembly post graduate diploma in Mass
elections managing the key Communication from Symbiosis,
messaging and social media tools. Pune.
Anup Sharma Anubhuti Mathur
22 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
Moving To A New Age Of Political Communications | ................................................
Alok Sanwal - the COO of Jagran Prakashan Ltd. and Editor of i-next,
a bi-lingual daily – is one of those few professionals who dared to swim
against the tide and made a shift from marketing to editorial. In a frank
conversation with Lovejeet Alexander, Alok elaborated on the value
addition by the new age communicators and the changing trends in
political class’ media relations.
Q. You have seamlessly sailed from branding to editorial, and Q. Your editions cover several states. Many of them recently
now lead a popular and successful publication. How was witnessed assembly elections. Have you observed any
the experience of playing two different roles? difference in political communications between recent
and earlier elections?
Ans: I believe that branding and editorial both are all about Ans: There is a clear shift in terms of political communications which
communications. One is about mass communications and the other is I would like to call a progression. Use of technology into the scheme of
marketing communications. Both are based on the same fundamental things has been way more than ever in the recent elections. The new age
communications school practices. Just that the audiences change. One communications strategists are leading political campaigns from the
is aimed at achieving something while the other is aimed at mass with front and are leaving no part of the society untouched. What statement
news at its core. When you head marketing communications, you have is to be made, who is it aimed at, how to respond to it and what needs
to run a business model and I suppose that editors today also have to to be communicated first, what later, it’s all dependent on the new age
keep in mind that there is an input output equation. Objectives are well strategists.
defined for both. The delightful part of being on the editorial side is that
it comes with an opportunity for social connectivity and meaningful “Media will be always selective for its own
contribution to the society. larger interest which is either to provide
relevant information to its readers or to ensure
Q. Your brainchild i-next was an experiment that broke all that it stays relevant to its audience.”
norms. It was a bi-lingual tabloid from Jagran’s stable.
Now, it’s a broadsheet. What led to such experiments and Q. What do the new age political communicators bring along
how has the experience been? to add to the political scenario and electoral system of
Ans: When we started 10 years ago, the vision was to be what our TG
is. Our TG is bi-lingual; they continue and keep talking in a mixed Ans: They clearly give a method to the practice and structure the
lingo. We picked the same common used language and quintessentially mechanism which may otherwise be haywire, considering the
have remained like that. Our bi-lingual format has defined our identity. enormity of the communication on multiple media. New age political
Incidentally, we still are a slim broadsheet and not a regular broadsheet. communicators understand that every communication of the political
It’s part of the progression that is based on research which says that parties needs to go to several sets of people simultaneously at multiple
broader format has a greater acceptance and helps us in making a better layers. And these are not conventional communications going through
connect with our reader. conventional media.
24 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
Q. Do you see any difference between the communications Q. Sometimes we see two or more power centres within a
strategy of regional and national political parties? party. Many a times their messaging is poles apart. Could
there be a strategy that can take care of such situations?
Ans: National parties have to contest across the length and breadth
of the nation so they have to be careful in picking up the issues and Ans: Firstly, the party which has a clearer core, ideology and
agenda and have to distinguish between the communication that is communication within the cadre and party line and clear perspective
to go national and the one that is to go very local. A comment that is on multiple issues will not face any such issue. Though there may be
relevant in one part of the country may not be conducive for the party several power centres within the party.
in another part of the nation. They have to differentiate between the
two and to make sure what is communicated locally and what goes out Secondly, there should be an internal process of clearly briefing the
nationally. While a regional party does not have that big a challenge. spokespersons along with the dictum and decorum that nobody will
speak out of turn. If there is an issue then rather than specifically
Q. Media complains that governments are replacing press reacting to an incident and giving a verdict, the leaders should stick to
conferences with tweet conferences nowadays. Interaction the larger perspective and ideology of the party. Broader decorum is an
of the present PM with the journalists at the best is for an absolute issue of internal communication which needs to be consistent
annual selfie session. What’s your take on this? and everybody needs to abide by that.
Ans: There should be warmth between the government and media Q. What is that one piece of advice that you have for political
in general and there should be a definite level of keeping media in parties with regards to their media relations?
confidence and vice versa. That diplomacy is being handled in a
slightly different and evolved manner now. I think that the earlier Ans: Both formal and informal channels should be opened up. In the
government was selective in keeping the editorial heads of key media current day media, there may be a lot of journalists specially the people
houses happy and following a heavy PR strategy which this government worth their credentials who may not necessarily want to reach out to
probably is not following. It is not into bracketing policy. Uniformity of political parties. Hence, parties will have to open formal and informal
communication reaching to everyone is what the larger chunk of media channels at both the levels.
is happy with.
Q. It has often been observed that the communications
strategy and sometimes even the messaging of political
parties changes completely after they come in power. How
do you see the same?
Ans: In message, I suppose there is a broader level of consistency but
there is a course correction. Once in power, one is consistently making
his communication appropriate, relevant and probably working on to
highlight the strengths.
Q. Whenever a communications plan, especially that of the
government fails, the party and supporters start blaming
media. Do you think that the communications strategists
should learn to accept failure?
Ans: The communications strategy irrespective of whether that is for
a product, a party, an individual or brands, if it is aimed for certain
objectives, the strategist should always take into account the external
factors and how people are going to react to them. Why blame media?
Ultimately media will always be selective for its own larger interest
which is either to provide relevant information to its readers or to
ensure that it stays relevant to its audience.
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 25
Indian General Elections 2014: A Case Study | ............................................................
Hemant Gaule is the co-founder and Deputy Dean of India’s first independent
school of public relations. Prior to this, he was a part of a team that spearheaded
the Prime Minister’s national election campaign. After graduating from the Indian
Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he spent two years with a leading Indian
conglomerate in brand management and corporate communications.
The 2014 General Election of India was unarguably one of the most economic health of the country were attributed to the government
talked about and studied elections of our generation. An evolved as their failure. This was enough to ascertain their destabilisation as
landscape of voter demographics, ideologies and communications legitimate contenders and set the stage for the necessity of a change in
ecosystem resulted in some path breaking campaigns as its parts. It was government.
clear that the campaign styles, strategies and tactics would need to be NDA, on the other hand, cemented their claim to a strong government
different, owing to the complexity of this landscape. under the leadership of Narendra Modi. LK Advani right after his initial
Historically, some elements of election campaigns in India have surprise and protest to his nomination came out with his supportive
remained consistent. Besides immense diversity of dialects and affirmation that: “If elected, Modi will repeat the work that we have
demographics, caste, religion and alliances have been the conventional done in BJP-ruled states across the country”.
arenas of political battles. Issues at the national and regional levels The second major element that campaign strategists had to harness
become topics of discourse that work alongside these factors. Finally, was communications in the digital age. An ocean of information was
and to a certain extent, political ideologies influence allegiances of the easily available, rapidly consumed and discussed in online forums. This
voting populace. While these would continue to play an undeniable role was the only mechanism through which campaign managers could
in decisive victories, every new election era sees influence of a new set now identify, segregate and leverage their supporter groups in this
of factors. otherwise unknown first time voter base. Data on their consumption
According to Election Commission of India, 814.5 million Indians patterns, location and issues that resonated with them was gold, and
were eligible to vote in 2014. In the overwhelming 65% population of was proactively gathered through several engagement initiatives.
India aged 35 or younger, over 150 million were first time voters in this Digital media empowered those supporters to contribute to the
election (and a little over 23 million of them were aged 18-19 years). elections, who would otherwise have limited means to do so. Aam
Although this did not undermine the influence of the conventional Aadmi Party, while building a multilevel influencer base, relied on
factors, it brought its own dynamism to the elections, something that simple (and free) tools such as Google Spreadsheets to allocate duties
campaign strategists could not ignore. Never before had such a large across a geographically dispersed supporter base. From a central
group of people added to the voting bank, with next to no insight on location, volunteers would receive direction and information through
which side they would support. Google Hangouts. Citizens for Accountable Governance, a political
As far as the issues go, our economy would be a larger focus as perceived think tank working with Prashant Kishor created 315 Facebook pages,
by this demography. As election campaigns flow, issues play two roles. one for each “swing” constituency of BJP, to gather and disseminate
The incumbent government must justify their performance, while the information. This would later set the foundation for Chai Pe Charcha,
contending parties use them to destabilise their claims to re-election. as it provided the necessary operational and political intelligence. By
Closer to the elections the role transcends, where the contenders must and large, by keeping a close eye on online conversations, campaign
present their vision and capabilities to deliver policies that result in the managers were able to segregate issues with incredible detail and
nation’s prosperity. accuracy, effectively speaking to individuals the very tone that would
By 2013, it was apparent that the UPA government had little to influence them.
substantiate their performance in power. According to data from PRS Such ingenuity and innovation that sprang from the grassroots, and
Legislative Research, the 15th Lok Sabha was the least productive in proceeded to go all the way, this is one of the biggest insights that
history. The PMO seemed to have been holding the dog collar of the communicators can take away. There are elements to electioneering
Coalgate scandal, amongst others. In the lighter sections of public in India that have persisted, and there are those that have originated
discourse, an A to Z guide to INC’s corruption was being tossed around, specifically for an upcoming election. Successful political
identifying several scandals under their government against each communicators will be able to identify and harness these new elements,
letter of the alphabet. Failing checks on unemployment and faltering whilst combining them with conventional factors of Indian elections.
26 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016
Await Everyone At The Drawing Board | ...........................................................................
Internal Communications and Employee Engagement
He started his career as an analyst and took the plunge about seven years ago
to pursue his passion for art and technology.
Connect with him: [email protected]
Hearty congratulations to the fraternity for its first-ever magazine. It is, in many companies.
indeed, a matter of pride and joy to write for its inaugural edition. Communication between teams, amongst colleagues, across hierarchies
Reputation, as the very word, is of immense importance today. At its and leadership that make delivery and implementation of strategies a
very surface, it is indicative of success/failure, vision, growth, progress, reality, is the most ignored aspect in many companies. That is the
et al. Deep down, it is clearly an indication of the role that an entity reason why internal channels like intranet, newsletters and posters are
intends to play in this world, which requires great clarity, strong value becoming redundant and losing credibility. The channels are losing
system, consistent evaluation of the action and the path, and an ever relevance as they serve outdated or safe information in the name of a
evolving vision. newsletter and parties, in the name of interactivity and engagement.
It is still easy to think about reputation when we talk about it in the I don’t say that the information based newsletters and parties based
context of individuals. They have the wherewithal to understand and engagement is not important, but it is peripheral.
build theirs according to their own vision and values, not through A not-so-great relationship between a line manager and his subordinate
someone else’s belief systems and ideas. will make the best of the strategies fail. How a line manager gives
The idea of reputation, however, becomes complex when we talk feedback, clarity among employees on how their roles connect with
about an organisation that has so many individuals, with each one the bigger picture, and regular water cooler conversations, among
affecting the reputation of the organisation with his/her conduct, many other things, form an important part of information flow in an
performance, ideas and self-belief. Imagine employees having organisation. These and many other questions need to be answered
different values, ethical preferences, priorities, goals and differing and effectively communicated to employees across levels for creating a
convictions, deciding on or directly affecting values, clarity, more efficient work environment. If the core questions and concerns are
vision, conduct and delivery of an entity. How do you visualise it? answered from time to time, the employee will fund his own party with
his colleagues and will be far more engaged at work.
Is the answer - Chaos Unfortunately, in the world of tremendous noise, reputation is still
considered a subject of external factors.
Add to it the distrust brewing amongst employees and employers, the If we want to utilise communication to the best of its potential, the
heightened expectations from leadership, increasing corporate frauds internal communications managers and heads will have to redefine
and scams, leadership vacuum, the increasing layoffs in contrast to an the scope, and put forward a case amongst the leadership team for
employee’s expectation of year on year growth, the societal pressure wider acceptance and greater attention around the same. Almost every
on everyone to earn more and consume more, employee retention company will term people as its assets but they hardly allocate a decent
challenges in companies, and to top it all, the poor communication budget for Internal Communications and Employee Engagement. The
skills widespread amongst Indian work force. business models are changing, the business environment is changing,
At the heart of such complexity lies the very idea of Internal and, with them, the way companies need to engage with employees
Communications and Employee Engagement. It is to make sure that should also change.
in times of such confusion and uncertainty, this ‘chaos’ is at least well If not, then grapevine and internal politics will become more and more
managed - if not reduced greatly. prominent and conclusive within organisations, only to make talent
That is why, I believe, Internal Communications and Employee retention, meritocracy and sustained growth a bigger challenge.
Engagement is more important than ever and impacts Reputation so As I highlight the challenges, I am equally involved with many
deeply. companies in working out possible ways of addressing these issues on
This brings me to a greater concern - understanding or misunderstanding a daily basis. It will be a pleasure to continue this discussion in the next
this function. Until recently, Internal Communications and Employee edition. In the meanwhile, I invite our readers to share their views on
Engagement was defined in terms of newsletters, annual parties, the thoughts presented.
posters, etc. Unfortunately, it is still being defined in the same manner After all, we are in it together.
REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016 27
Political Communications Is Here To Stay,
And So Is Reputation Today | ..................................................................................................
It is exciting to be making history. It is even more exciting when It is important to keep in mind that a lot of us tend to confuse a public
history is being made for a passion. What you have in your hands is affairs professional with a political communications strategist. While
arguably India’s first print magazine for the strategic communications the former will look at ways to influence policy in favour of the client
professional. Reputation Today is a labour of love for the communications or employer, a political communications strategist will work for a
fraternity. Ever since the first edition of PRAXIS, a dream of bringing political party or politician to help reach voters using various tactics
out a magazine has been nurtured. It took time to find collaborators in order to get an individual or party elected or re-elected. Specialised
who would help bring this idea to life. consultancies that plan and execute these campaigns have emerged.
Thanks to technology, several campaigns are being driven through
We hope a new breed of young smart use of data analytics and customised apps.
professionals emerges to emulate what is
being done in the west by those in their I’m confident that over the next five years, every politician worth
20s and 30s to create outstanding election his or her name will come to depend heavily on these strategists and
campaigns. Perceptions built around specialised firms to run campaigns, manage constituencies, and create a
reputations are those that last longest. potent mix of content and communications in the day to day operation
of the office. We hope a new breed of young professionals emerges to
Every quarter, we will focus on a specific topic of interest and close emulate what is being done in the west by those in their 20s and 30s
to half the content will revolve around it. The flavour of the season to create outstanding election campaigns. Perceptions built around
is Political Communications. We have a Prime Minister who has reputations are those that last longest.
made communications his style statement. We have a political
communications strategist who was not heard of beyond a tiny circle at We are here to stay, both as a magazine and as an online portal. The
this time two years ago. Today, he features on the cover of a magazine. online portal will be unique as it will be the first Made in India portal
We chose Prashant Kishor to feature on the cover because there has exclusively focusing on the consultancy-based and in-house public
been no other individual in recent times who has been credited for two relations professional. The key differentiator will be the weekly columns
successful election campaigns in a span of 18 months. Only time will by regular contributors and guest writers. We also have editorial team
tell how this method of oscillating between ideologies will shape up. members based in various continents who will share their inputs from
But, the verdict is out. Political communications and external election time to time.
strategists will be in demand in the months and years ahead.
We look forward to several of you raising your hand to write for the
portal. Your inputs over email will be greatly appreciated. Let us know
what you would like the focus of our subsequent issues to be.
Send your thoughts to
Amith Prabhu takes pride in calling Founder of The PRomise Foundation,
himself a Public Reputation Professional. the only organisation from India which
With nearly 15 years of work experience, is a member of the Global Alliance
Prabhu is currently a semi-entrepreneur, a and which organises the largest annual
passionate fundraiser and a PR educator. communications conference in South
He is the Founding Dean of the Indian Asia.
School of COmmunicators & REputation Amith can be reached at
(SCoRe), India’s first independent @amithpr on Twitter.
school of Public Relations. He is also the
28 REPUTATION TODAY APR 2016